Cricket: Fleming stays on to send Surrey top

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The Independent Online
SURREY MOVED to the top of the County Championship table on Saturday after securing a fourth successive victory, by an innings and 28 runs, against Kent at Tunbridge Wells.

Graham Gooch, the England selector, was one of few spectators at the ground as Kent resumed on 154 for 9, still needing 46 to make Surrey bat again. Captain Matthew Fleming and last man Julian Thompson survived 3.5 overs, adding 18 runs, before Thompson was trapped lbw by Martin Bicknell.

Graeme Hick struck a superb 134, his eighth century against Sussex, to help Worcestershire salvage a draw after they were forced to follow on 177 behind in the match at Horsham.

Worcestershire were hanging on at 255 for 9 when rain led to an early finish after tea. Acting skipper Hick, returning from World Cup duty with England, defied the hosts for nearly five hours until his dismissal shortly before tea. He hit 19 fours and two sixes for his 105th first-class century before attempting to hook Chris Adams and edging a catch to slip.

Stuart Law continued his rich vein of form with his fourth century of the summer as Essex and Hampshire drew at Ilford. The Australian followed up his half-century in the first innings with an unbeaten 107 before Essex declared on 218 for 3.

This left Hampshire the impossible victory target of 249 in a minimum of 23 overs. They reached 36 for 2 in the 15th over when rain ended play.

Ben Smith's dashing 82 provided welcome entertainment as Leicestershire's rain-hit match with Glamorgan ended in a draw at Grace Road. The highlight of a dull day was a fourth-wicket stand of 144 in 29 overs between Smith and Aftab Habib.

Dominic Cork and Derbyshire were denied victory by a Yorkshire fight- back which earned them a draw at Derby. Half-centuries from Anthony McGrath and Richard Blakey guided the visitors to safety although Cork did his best to win the match, with 5 for 66.

Paul Johnson steered Nottinghamshire out of trouble on the final day of their match against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road before rain intervened. His unbeaten 83, which included 11 fours, guided the visitors to 209 for 3, 55 runs adrift, when rain stopped play for the second time just after tea and the match was abandoned.

Nick Knight was the only beneficiary from another day of frustration at Edgbaston. The Warwickshire opener found a semblance of form by making an unbeaten 27 from 73 balls before the match fizzled out with three declarations.

Middlesex's closure at 216 for 8 denied Warwickshire the chance of a fourth bowling point, and the home side retaliated by halting their first innings at 70 for 2. Middlesex made 15 without loss before declaring.

Durham's hopes of their first championship win for a year were dashed by rain at Chester-le-Street. The rain began just as Somerset were all out for 199, which would have left Durham a target of 188 in 52 overs.

Gloucestershire's rain-ruined match with Lancashire at Bristol was committed to a watery grave. Only 7.3 overs were possible on the final day, during which the visitors moved to 351 for 9 to gain an extra batting point.